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cortado coffee recipe without machine

How to Make a Cortado at...

If you’re a coffee lover, you’ve probably heard of the cortado. This Spanish espresso-based beverage is gaining popularity for its unique flavor and simple preparation. While you may think that making a cortado at home requires an expensive espresso machine, that’s not necessarily the case. In this comprehensive guide, we will show you how to make a delicious cortado without an espresso machine, using alternative methods and ingredients readily available in your kitchen.

What is a Cortado?

A cortado is a Spanish coffee drink that consists of equal parts espresso and steamed milk. The word “cortado” is derived from the Spanish word “cortar,” which means “to cut.” This refers to the way the milk “cuts” the intensity of the espresso, creating a perfectly balanced and smooth beverage. Unlike other espresso-based drinks like lattes or cappuccinos, a cortado has a minimal amount of foam and is typically served in a small glass.

The Equipment You’ll Need

To make a cortado at home without an espresso machine, you’ll need a few essential tools and ingredients. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

  • A Moka Pot or alternative brewing method: Since we’re not using an espresso machine, a Moka Pot can be a great alternative. It brews strong, concentrated coffee that can mimic the intensity of an espresso shot. If you don’t have a Moka Pot, don’t worry – we’ll explore other methods later in this guide.
  • Freshly Roasted Coffee Beans: For the best flavor, opt for high-quality coffee beans and grind them just before brewing.
  • A Coffee Grinder: If you’re using whole coffee beans, a grinder is essential for achieving the perfect grind size. Aim for a fine grind, similar to what you would use for espresso.
  • Milk: Whole milk is traditionally used for cortados, but you can use any type of milk you prefer, such as almond milk or oat milk.
  • A Stovetop or Heat Source: Depending on the brewing method you choose, you’ll need a stovetop or another heat source to brew your coffee and heat your milk.

Now that you have all your equipment ready, let’s move on to the step-by-step instructions for making a cortado at home without an espresso machine.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Choose Your Brewing Method

  • As mentioned earlier, a Moka Pot is an excellent alternative to an espresso machine for making a cortado at home. Here’s how you can use a Moka Pot to brew strong coffee for your cortado:
  • Fill the bottom chamber of your Moka Pot with filtered water up to the valve.
  • Insert the filter basket and fill it with finely ground coffee. Level the coffee grounds with a gentle shake.
  • Screw the top chamber onto the bottom chamber tightly.
  • Place the Moka Pot on the stovetop over medium heat.
  • As the water heats up, the pressure will build, and coffee will start to flow into the top chamber. Keep an eye on the process to prevent over-extraction.

If you don’t have a Moka Pot, don’t worry! You can still make a cortado using alternative brewing methods such as a French Press or Pour-Over. Here’s a quick overview of how to use these methods:

  • French Press: Grind your coffee beans to a coarse consistency. Add the grounds to the French Press, pour hot water over them, and let it steep for a few minutes. Afterward, press the plunger down slowly to separate the coffee grounds from the liquid.
  • Pour-Over: Place a filter in your Pour-Over dripper and rinse it with hot water. Add ground coffee to the filter, then slowly pour hot water in a circular motion over the coffee grounds. Allow the water to drip through the filter into your cup.

Choose the brewing method that suits your preference and the equipment you have available.

  • Pour the desired amount of milk into a stainless steel milk jug or a small pot.
  • Place the milk jug or pot on the stovetop over low to medium heat.
  • Heat the milk, stirring gently, until it reaches around 63 degrees Celsius (145 degrees Fahrenheit). You can use a thermometer to monitor the temperature.
  • Once the milk reaches the desired temperature, remove it from the heat immediately. Be careful not to overheat the milk, as it can scorch and affect the flavor.
  • If you prefer a little froth on top of your cortado, you can use a handheld milk frother or a whisk to froth the milk gently. Alternatively, you can skip this step for a smoother texture.

Step 2: Combine the Coffee and Milk
With your coffee brewed and milk heated, it’s time to combine the two to create your perfect cortado. Here’s how to do it:

  • Pour the brewed coffee into a cup or glass. Aim to fill the cup halfway to create an equal ratio of espresso and milk.
  • Slowly pour the heated milk into the cup, filling it to the top. Be careful not to pour too quickly, as it can disturb the layers.
  • As you pour the milk, you may notice a slight color change as the milk blends with the coffee. This is normal and adds to the aesthetic appeal of the cortado.
  • Give the cup a gentle swirl to ensure the coffee and milk are well combined.

Step 3: Serve and Enjoy

Your homemade cortado is now ready to be enjoyed! Serve it as is or add a sprinkle of cocoa powder or cinnamon on top for an extra touch of flavor. Sip and savor the rich, balanced flavors of the cortado, and feel free to experiment with different brewing methods and milk alternatives to suit your taste preferences.

Tips for Making the Perfect Cortado

  • Choose freshly roasted coffee beans: To ensure the best flavor, opt for high-quality coffee beans that have been freshly roasted. Grinding the beans just before brewing will also enhance the taste.
  • Experiment with different brewing methods: While a Moka Pot is the traditional choice for making a cortado, feel free to experiment with other brewing methods like a French Press or Pour-Over. Each method will have its unique flavor profile.
  • Pay attention to the milk temperature: Heating the milk to around 63 degrees Celsius (145 degrees Fahrenheit) will ensure it is at the optimal temperature for a cortado. Use a thermometer to measure the temperature accurately.
  • Practice your milk frothing technique: While a cortado doesn’t require a lot of froth, you can still experiment with gently frothing the milk to add a touch of texture to your drink. Practice your technique and find the right balance for your preferences.
  • Experiment with different milk alternatives: If you prefer dairy-free options, you can use almond milk, oat milk, or any other milk alternative of your choice. Each alternative will impart its unique flavor and texture to the cortado.

Further Reading :


Making a delicious cortado at home without an espresso machine is easier than you might think. With a few essential tools and quality ingredients, you can enjoy this Spanish coffee delight in the comfort of your own kitchen. Whether you choose to use a Moka Pot, French Press, or Pour-Over, the key is to maintain the equal parts ratio of espresso and steamed milk. Experiment with different brewing methods, milk alternatives, and flavor additions to create your personalized cortado experience. So go ahead, grab your favorite coffee beans, heat up the milk, and indulge in a perfectly balanced cortado that rivals any coffee shop creation. Cheers

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I use instant coffee to make a cortado?

While it’s possible to use instant coffee in a pinch, it won’t provide the same depth and flavor as freshly brewed coffee. We recommend using freshly ground coffee beans for the best taste.

2. Can I sweeten my cortado?

Absolutely! If you prefer a touch of sweetness in your cortado, you can add a small amount of sugar or a flavored syrup to taste. Experiment with different sweeteners and find your perfect balance.

3. Can I make a cortado with decaf coffee?

Yes, you can use decaf coffee to make a cortado if you prefer to avoid caffeine. The process remains the same, but the flavor profile will be different due to the absence of caffeine.

4. Can I make a cortado with cold milk?

Traditionally, cortados are made with steamed milk. However, if you prefer a colder version, you can use cold milk instead. Keep in mind that the texture and flavor may vary compared to a traditional cortado.

5. How many calories in a cortado with whole milk?

A cortado with whole milk typically contains around 18 calories

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